Ports: 2 x USB-A 3.0, 1 x USB-C with 100W Power Delivery, 1 x USB-C host port, 1 x HDMI 2.0, 1 x 3.5mm headphone jack, 1 x SD card reader, 1 x Micro SD card reader
Supports: iPadOS, Android, Windows
It’s amazing what a few ports can do to transform a simple slab with a display into a viable work machine. Tablets have proven themselves to be more than just a device to consume acres of content, with the M1 iPad Pro and Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 showcasing the impressive capabilities of slates. The problem? They’re missing a certain special X factor that laptops ooze without a second thought: adaptability.
Typing on a digital keyboard that takes up half the screen without any physical, satisfying clicks? “No way!” says the writer. Trying to cut and edit videos by using your finger as a makeshift mouse? “Not a chance!” says the content creator. Working on a device that’s lying flat on a surface? “Ridiculous!” says, well, everyone. That’s when hubs and docks like the ESR 8-in-1 Portable Stand Hub come in.
This hub for tablets may seem like a simple stand with a few ports jammed into it, but it goes the extra mile to transform your iPad or Android tablet into a natural powerhouse — especially if you already have the extra peripherals and the right software. While it’s a shame it doesn’t come bundled with a power adapter that powers the device itself, and the limitations of tablet operating systems are still miles behind Windows and macOS, ESR’s Portable Stand Hub can still make the most out of your tablet.
ESR 8-in-1 Portable Stand Hub price
Coming in at $59.99/£53.99 (opens in new tab), ESR’s 8-in-1 Portable Stand Hub is reasonably priced for a USB-C hub, and even better, considering it comes with an adjustable stand to place your tablet in. While it isn’t as specced out as Kensington’s $379.99 StudioDock iPad docking station, it’s far more affordable and significantly less cumbersome.
Even when compared to the best USB-C hubs out there, which can range anywhere between $30 to over $100, it sits nicely at a fair price. Of course, this is targeted at those with iPads and Android tablets, but as you’ll find further down, it doesn’t necessarily have to connect to a slate — its USB-C host port can also be used with a laptop. This greatly increases the hub’s capabilities, but I can’t help to think ESR cut down its cost by not including a power adapter. While many will already have the right USB-C chargers to power the hub, not including a power adapter takes away its Power Delivery function.
Still, for a USB-C hub with a stand for your tablet, this is a reasonable purchase.
ESR 8-in-1 Portable Stand Hub design
Following the design cues of nearly every other accessory brand, ESR has given the device an Apple-like silver, aluminum finish — all to match the aestheitc of iPads. Of course, this isn’t just for iPads, and will fit in snugly with a majority of desk setups, thanks to its compact, 0.5 meter-high size.
Take away the adjustable arm and you’re left with a generic USB-C slab with a sleek, rounded edge at the front and ports filling up the sides. These aren’t just randomly placed, however, as more permanent ports like the USB-C 100W Power Delivery and HDMI slot are at the back of the device, while the USB-C host port is along the right to match where a tablet’s USB-C port is when in a landscape position.
“Portable” is in the name for a reason, as the stand is collapsible to easily fit into a laptop bag. I wouldn’t feel the need to take it with me wherever I go, as it’s not as readily useable as Apple’s Magic Keyboard when travelling. However, being able to place it wherever I need it on my desk, or even my bedside table, is a highlight.
The stand arm can be adjusted by up to 120 degrees and the device platform can adjust by up to 270 degrees. It’s handy when I want to tilt my iPad Air (2020) to the right angle, but I would never adjust it with the tablet in place. The Portable Stand Hub may have anti-slip grips to hold a tablet in place, but the stand arm is incredibly stiff, meaning I had to use more force to adjust it. When I tried with the iPad Air resting on the arm, the stand would tip over and I could see my iPad wobbling out of place, potentially crashing to its doom. A bit more oil in the joints please, ESR.
I appreciate that the arm has a space for the USB-C port for tablets when placed vertically, meaning I could easily switch my iPad from portrait to landscape without any hassle. Of course, it doesn’t have to be used as a hub, meaning I could take it around with me and place it on any surface. I do enjoy watching shows like The Umbrella Academy or Black Bird while I cook up a storm in the kitchen, and I can do just that with the stand.
ESR 8-in-1 Portable Stand Hub ports
There’s a great selection of ports on the ESR 8-in-1 Portable Stand Hub, despite them being common. Thing is, these common ports make all the difference for a tablet, as it allows you to use a mouse and keyboard, transfer data between more than one port, hook up an external monitor, and even listen to tunes via the audio jack. Oh, and this all applies if you plug it into a laptop, too.
Along the right, there’s a USB-C host port to connect a tablet to the hub, an SD card reader, and a microSD card reader. For photographers and content creators transferring files, these are hugely welcome ports.
On the left, there are two USB-A 3.0 ports and a 3.5mm headphone jack. Nothing special, but it does mean being able to connect a mouse, keyboard, USB stick, and other peripherals to use on compatible tablets. These days, most modern tablets support external keyboards and mice, wireless or wired. Be sure to check out the best wireless keyboards and best mouse on the market.
Around back, there’s a USB-C port with 100W Power Delivery and an HDMI 2.0 port. Both are useful in turning your simple slab with a screen into a proper work hub. Again, you’ll need to find your own source of power to charge the hub (and therefore your tablet), and many tablets still have trouble offering a proper second screen without any third-party software support.
ESR 8-in-1 Portable Stand Hub performance
I’ve become well versed in using a tablet as my main work driver, thanks to the Kensington StudioDock iPad docking station and Apple Magic Keyboard. Regardless of their high prices, they are solid pieces of equipment that allowed me to use my iPad as a second device to work on multiple documents and to whip up articles while travelling, respectively. The ESR 8-in-1 Portable Stand Hub is almost a blend of the two, although it’s more of a stationary hub akin to the StudioDock rather than a portable one.
I tested the hub out by placing my iPad Air on it and connecting a HyperX Alloy Origins 60, Razer Naga Pro mouse, SD card, wired earphones, and 4K monitor. Everything worked as expected, and I was gliding through apps and typing away, thanks to the extra peripherals (who needs a touchscreen, anyway?), all while the iPad was charging. As you can see, the included USB-C cable is way too long to connect the host port with my iPad. It’s annoying, but that’s a minor nuisance compared to the big black bars bordering the external monitor.
This is an issue with many tablets, and users can usually only use the second display as a duplicate screen. Apps such as shiftscreen for iPads and Samsung’s DeX mode or Second Screen feature on the Microsoft Store make this experience far better, but it isn’t as simple as plugging in a HDMI cable and having the monitor adapt to the right resolution. Still, this isn’t the portable stand hub’s problem, just the extent of a tablet’s current abilities.
Being able to work on my iPad as I would on a laptop is great, but I would have preferred if the hub came with a height-adjustable arm. The tilt is useful, especially for video calls, but I was still looking down at the display, which we know isn’t great for posture. Having an extendable arm would greatly increase its adaptability on any desk surface.
Interestingly, what ESR doesn’t state is that the hub doesn’t have to be used with a tablet. Instead of hooking up the host port with my iPad, I used it on my Dell Latitude laptop. I was still able to use my mouse and keyboard, charge the laptop, and it also connected to the 4K monitor. This means I could use the portable stand hub as a regular USB-C hub while my iPad sat on top for me to use. That’s another fantastic use case that’s noteworthy, especially for those who like to have their tablet handy on their desk while using their laptop to the fullest.
Overall, for a seemingly simple tablet stand with ports, it can do a lot to make the most of your tablet’s potential.
ESR 8-in-1 Portable Stand Hub: Bottom line
If you’re looking to turn your iPad or Android tablet into something more than a device for consuming content, the ESR 8-in-1 Portable Stand Hub gives your slate the ports and stand it needs to become an important part of your work setup. It’s small enough to be placed anywhere on a desk, it has the right ports that multiple kinds of professionals will make good use out of, and it can even be used to connect to laptops while a tablet sits on top of it.
The hub’s reasonable pricing makes it more than worth it, although finding your own power supply to make use out of its 100W Power Delivery is let down. A more adaptable arm would have been beneficial, but its 120-degree tilt is a nice bonus.
If you have the cash to splurge and want to charge all your Apple products while working off an iPad, I recommend the Kensington StudioDock. However, for those after a hub made to extend their tablet’s capabilities, this 8-in-1 Portable Stand Hub will do the trick.